Sunday, November 6, 2011

North Twin, South Twin, Galehead, & Garfield - 11/5/11

Back to the mountains this weekend.With this hike of 4 peaks in the books, my brother will be heading down the final stretch with 10 more to go. We were planning for a half pemi-traverse from North Twin to Lincoln Woods to bag 8 total, however the tricky crossings at the start as well as re-adapting to traveling on snow packed trails slowed us down a little, so we returned to the start car. Bill checked off 4 more peaks, and I reached my 30th Trailwright 72 peak and checked 4 more peaks off my grid for November. I have now hiked Mt. Garfield, Galehead and South Twin 3 times each since January and each in 3 different months, making me a master grid planner. Check out my progress here.

We started out at 5:15am from the North Twin Trail trailhead. The trail started out with a couple of inches of snow and then quickly changed to several inches of packed snow. In anticipation of the conditions, we had switched to our winter hiking boots for this hike. We bare booted most of the entire hike, and used micros a little. Each of the three river crossings were a challenge. The first one (shown below) required us to traverse a log over a swift moving section of the river. It took a while to find this too, but once we did, I switched into adventure mode and went for it. At the next one, we walked across one smaller log as we held onto another larger log at chest height over a deep pool, then rock hopped the other half of that crossing. On the third crossing, I had leaped over a large pool close to the bank which enabled me to hop across the rest of the way. However, this was rosky, as that leap and then the final rock hops required momentum. Bill was lining up to take the same leap, however couldn't commit. After a few more minutes, he found a satisfactory route, but he still had to use a partially submerged rock. This stuff took some time away from our plan..
Crossing the Little River on North Twin Trail
After the crossings, we made some progress as the sky started to lighten.
North Twin Trail 
As we approached the summit of North Twin, the snow was snowshoe-able. It brought back the first memories of hiking in winter earlier this year. It was also a reminder that winter hiking is a different animal (Even though its not winter yet!). The sky was just starting to clear and the air was crisp as we made the summit of North Twin. We had no views from the viewpoint just yet, the blink of an eye and by the time we started towards South Twin, the clouds were gone and we were into the beautiful day that was expected. We hiked through a sun blasted winter wonderland with crystal clear views to Mt. Washington.
North Twin Spur
Me on North Twin Spur posing with the Presidentials
The Presidentials were sure nice to look at....but easily comparable in beauty is the expansive views from the North of the Pemigewasset Wilderness which I knew Bill would enjoy.
Looking southeast from a viewpoint on North Twin Spur
I've said it before, I think South Twin is a tough climb, which ever way you approach it. When you look at South Twin from its neighbors, it towers. We came of the scrub and up onto the rocky summit with  incredible views.
North Twin Spur sign at S. Twin summit with Mt. Washington
We headed down the steep Twinway to Galehead Hut. We took a little break, dropped our packs, and headed to the summit of Galehead Mountain where the viewpoint along the way provides a great view of Galehead Hut and the Twins.
View from viewpoint near Galehead Mountain summit
After Galehead we proceeded west on the strenuous Garfield Ridge Trail towards Mt. Garfield. The approach towards Garfield had us going up and down, and then up some of the steep sections of Garfield Ridge Trail, which were icy. Eventually we made the summit, which was occupied by nearly two dozen hikers. Again, the views endless.
Love the view of Owl's Head and the Pemi from Garfield...
If we continued ascending as planned along Franconia Ridge, we would be hiking well into the night, and we wanted to efficiently use day light to descend before we got in too far, plus Bill was feeling sore. We descended the Garfield Trail and took the Gale River Loop Road and other forest service roads back to our start car at the North Twin trailhead. We took a right off Gale River Loop Road. This is the road between Gale River Loop and Haystack. Although its shown fully on the AMC map, the road shrinks to narrow footpaths along old logging cut-outs. The orange glow of the sunset illuminated the peaks behind us as walked along this less traveled hillside down to Haystack Road.

Hike Stats
Trails: North Twin Trail, North Twin Spur, Twinway, Frost Trail, Garfield Ridge Trail, Garfield Trail, Gale River Loop Road, other forest service road, Haystack Road
Distance: 20.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 5650 feet
Book Time: 13hrs 30min

To view the full album from this hike, view or click on the slide show below.

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